I could easily start off with a string of statistics; 44% of rape victims are under the age of 18, every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted, and my favorite, 97% of rapists will not spend a day in jail. I could start off with a string of statistics, yes, but when you become a part of a study, it’s extremely hard to base your feelings off of a bunch of numbers that can be found on Google, or in a glossy pamphlet at the Gynecologist’s office (I can’t stand them, by the way). When has a pamphlet ever made a person feel better? I became a part of known rape statistics, in June of 2012, when a guy in my life took full advantage of me, and left me with a laundry list of scary issues. I am now sharing my story and my battle with depression, with all of you. Have you ever woken up from a nightmare, and felt disoriented and scared? Well, that was my life for close to a year after being raped. Unlike a bad dream, I was unable to wake up and feel safe, because my bad dream was a very real nightmare. It happened on a balmy night, in June, of 2012. Within three hours of hanging out with a guy I thought I could trust, he raped me. I still remember where my thong had been tossed, after he violently ripped it off of me, along with my favorite summer shorts (I could never wear them again). I remember every detail of that night, as if it happened yesterday. I thought that night was going to consist of me watching reruns of Gossip Girl (my obsession in 2007) and drinking a beer; boy, had I been beyond wrong. He left me that night and I fell to the ground, and drowned in a puddle of tears; his abusive words replaying in my head, over and over again. I called my best friend at the time, and left her an incoherent voicemail, which she heard the next morning. I drank myself to sleep that night, and wished to sleep forever. I showered, and while standing in front of the mirror that hung in my room, naked, I found bruises and bite marks on my body. I was no longer comfortable in my own skin. You assume that after being hurt physically or emotionally, you will fight back. I wanted so bad to fight. Where had my strength gone? I knew that at some point I would have to fight, to regain my life, and my security, but all I could do was drink and cry. There was nothing I wanted more than to defeat my demons, but instead of fighting, I completely shut down. I felt a level of nausea that paralyzed my entire body. The Lizzie who had once existed, was gone. She never returned. I emerged from this trauma, forever altered. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, was tell my mother and my best friend, the next day, that I had been raped…and by a guy who they both knew, a guy who had been a part of my life for a few years. I felt weak and very much like an empty shell. Everything I had once believed to be true, had vanished, in an instant. The days that followed the night of the rape, were incredibly dark. Some days I remember very little of (too much alcohol). I fell into a deep depression. I’ve been asked why I didn’t immediately go to the police. My answer is a simple one. I was absolutely terrified. My world caved in on top of me. I did though, report the rape to the police months after, but it was too late. There was no evidence. It was my word against his. I spent weeks trying to press charges, but I was ignored by everyone. “Why didn’t you report this incident to the authorities sooner? You have no proof. It’s his word against yours. You will fight and go to court for nothing.” I looked at the detective who said that to me, and asked, “Have you ever been sexually assaulted?” His answer of course, was no. I then told him that he cannot judge my situation, at all, until he has endured everything I had to go through. It sounds easy enough, reporting a rape to the police, until you’re sexually assaulted, and then everything changes. You don’t know how you’d react, until it happens to you. The police failed me, completely. I stood there, in the hallway of the police station, while the detective said to me, “Well, I interviewed a few students from your school and apparently you’re a slut” (one of many reasons why I hated my high school). I felt as though someone had put an AK47 up to my head, and had pulled the trigger. One, his words were far from the truth. Clearly, the people he had interviewed knew nothing about me. Maybe, he should’ve spent his precious time interviewing my friends and family, who had watched me attempt to drink myself to death, for months. Two, even if I was a woman of loose morals, that doesn’t mean I deserved to be raped. I was absolutely disgusted. I finally mustered up the courage to press charges against my attacker, and that was the treatment I got? I finally understood why the percentage of reported rapes in America, is so low. I was being hit with classic rape culture. The detective sounded just as uneducated and awful as the people who go around saying, “Wearing short skirts will get you raped.” I regretted ever sharing my story with the police, and trying to press charges. I felt sick to my stomach for weeks after that. I had felt alone before going to the police. I never thought I could feel worse, but once again, I had been wrong. I saw three therapists and an amazing psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and depression. I was put on anxiety and depression medication. I switched medications, three times. I ended up on Paxil and Abilify. I hated being medicated. I went through periods of painful nausea. It was awful; all of it. I ended up getting my wisdom teeth taken out, in the midst of my horrible depression. I was proscribed Oxycodone for the pain. One night, the pain I was feeling, overwhelmed me, and became more than I could handle. I felt as though nothing would ever be ok again. I drank half a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black, and swallowed a handful of pills (Oxycodone). I don’t remember passing out that night, but I do remember waking up the next morning (someone was watching over me). I was slapped in the face with a frightening realization; I had tried to kill myself, and was unsuccessful. I would never wish how I felt in that moment, on anyone, not even my worst enemy. I continued to take pills on a regular basis. I danced about the line of life and death, a few times. I had begun hallucinating, as well. I would hallucinate while at work, while driving, while lying in bed at night. I hallucinated while driving home from work one evening, and almost crashed into a guardrail. I got home and curled up in a ball. I felt as though I was going mad, and no one understood what I was going through. I was an alien. I hated the person I was becoming. I wanted off of the roller coaster ride I found myself on. I lost so many people while I was losing myself. I lost one person in particular, who I will always miss. Trauma reveals who your real friends are, though. You never know who’s going to step up and be there for you, in your hour of need. It’s never who you expect will be there, either. So many people have surprised me. I am not sure when I returned to a level of normalcy, and was no longer downing pills, and drinking way too much. I don’t remember when I finally threw my head back again, and laughed. I think my awakening was as boring as just waking up one morning, and no longer wanting to feel the way I had, for so long. I wanted to know happiness again. I didn’t want to be scared or sad anymore. He took so many days (and nights) away from me, that I will never get back. I was finally ready to fight. I fought for my life back. I picked up my shattered pieces and formed a new person, a stronger person. Of course, if I could rewind time, and stop that night from happening, I would do so in a heartbeat, but all of the pain I endured afterwards, made me who I am today. I still see him, occasionally. Unfortunately, he is not rotting away in prison, which is what I wanted (actually I wanted much, much, much worse for him, but I am censoring on here). His face and his voice still make me want to vomit. My hands still shake and my stomach still aches after I’ve seen him. I will never wish him happiness, and I will never forgive him for what he did to me. I will always be a constant reminder to him of tremendous mistakes he has made; a ghost of his past, haunting him forever. I will always be here to remind him, that he didn’t break me. He caused me extraordinary amounts of pain, but he didn’t steal my voice or my passion for life. I can finally say, that I made it. I have very few regrets, when I look back on my nineteen years, but I do have some. If you’ve endured a serious trauma, such as sexual assault, please join a support group. Talk it out (or cry it out, which is what I did). Talking is such a great tool, but so many of us remain silent (understandably so). Opening up to others, is scary, especially strangers, but it makes you feel less alone. I always feel better after talking to someone about what I’ve been going through. I have heard some amazing stories and have gained unforgettable advice (knowledge), just by talking to people. I’ve had heart-heart’s with complete strangers, and I know that is what we’re told not to do as children (don’t talk to strangers!!), but I’ve met some remarkable strangers. I have listened to so many people tell me that they’re my biggest cheerleader (thank you for the spirit and the pompoms), but I have come to realize over the past few months, that I am my biggest cheerleader. I will always be my biggest advocate. No one knows you, better than you do. Always remember that. I found light (my strength) after being lost in the darkness. I know now, that I can survive anything. I just hope that one day we live in a world where men are taught not to rape, and not in a world where women are told not to wear short skirts. Here’s to hopefully, a better tomorrow. Cheers.